In case you haven’t, Microsoft is hoping to transform computer technology. First, we had desktop computers. Then, laptop computers, tablets and smartphones. For years, our devices have continually become smaller and easier to carry. Now, Microsoft has released conceptual videos and demonstrations for the HoloLens, an augmented reality headset which seems more like a dorky pair of over-sized sunglasses than a bona fide futuristic piece of tech that is in fact very real and slated for release later this year.
Check out Microsoft’s concept video to learn more about the HoloLens:
Of course, this video only showcases a few things the device will let you do when released. But what might we discover down the road? Here are the top five practical uses for Microsoft’s mind-blowing augmented reality headset!
The HoloLens allows one person to guide another through a series of tasks. The instructor can augment the learner’s field of vision with lines or arrows, and the pair can communicate each step through Skype. Sometimes, on the job training progresses slowly because new recruits must first watch trainers perform the tasks being learned. This hands-on approach to augmented reality could save businesses a lot of time and money.
That’s exactly why NASA is planning on using new software to help their scientists train for missions as if they were actually performing them on the surface of Mars. The software is called OnSight, and was developed with Microsoft’s help. With OnSight, your field of vision becomes the landscape of another planet.
The HoloLens could also save lives. We can imagine surgeons instructing other surgeons in how to perform complex or dangerous surgeries by showing them exactly where and how to cut. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s also possible that we might one day see these devices in classrooms, even making classrooms obsolete. The need for physical devices and even infrastructure might soon disappear.
A demonstrator for the HoloLens created an augmented reality drone on-stage, and then showed the audience a 3D printed version which was completed earlier. This device could turn pretty much anyone into an inventor or an entrepreneur. Furthermore, it might be the catalyst that makes the widespread customization promised by 3D printing industry analysts actually happen. If anyone can custom-design their own gizmos and sell them online, then we’re about to witness a slew of new 3D printing businesses pop up.
Designers who are already using 3D printers will love being able to draw and create more quickly. And who wouldn’t want to see their concepts in a more lifelike space before bringing them into the real world?
See the video here:
Viewers will be able to watch TV against a far wall, increasing or decreasing the size of the display simply by flicking their fingers through the air. But a crazier possibility has been theorized for years, and now seems very close to reality. Holographic television could one day be shot from many different angles. This would give 3D TV a whole new meaning, and provide us with truly lifelike, immersive shows. Simply switching positions or rotating a display could change our perspective of the show, making each experience completely different from the last.
And the HoloLens isn’t just for TV. We’ll certainly see gaming developers pounce on the new technology. It won’t necessarily compete with virtual reality gaming devices, either. Augmented reality would have a completely different level of immersion and interaction than the Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus. Gaming via the HoloLens is why Microsoft dropped $2.5 billion to purchase Minecraft.
Google just combined Google Translate with Word Lens, an app which allows you to point your iPhone toward a piece of text you wish to have translated. Combining these new technologies with the HoloLens lets us imagine how much simpler walking around in a foreign environment would become. How much longer before Star Trek’s universal translators are perfected?
The HoloLens could theoretically do anything a computer can do, and augmented reality keyboards certainly won’t be far behind. Soon, we’ll probably be typing on thin air, sending voice-transcribed texts or audio messages, and ditching a lot of our other devices. Of course, it might accomplish these tasks by connecting to another computer with technology like Bluetooth. Time will tell.
Interacting with Cortana using the HoloLens might change the way we perceive these electronic helpers. In fact, children might one day have imaginary friends which aren’t so imaginary at all. The Amazon Echo just launched, and we predicted it might have competitors before a year had passed. But the HoloLens is a whole new ballgame. We imagine Microsoft’s Cortana will have a comfortable home within these glasses, and we wonder what she’ll look like. Will the Echo be killed by the HoloLens? Will these augmented reality headsets help the budding industry surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) grow faster?
Before autonomous driving, we might be using a HoloLens to view information about the environment or conditions on the road. Augmented reality dashboards, which are only now being integrated with new vehicles could easily be replaced. One day, we might see holographic street signs or traffic lights, and we might be updated about traffic conditions with holographic warnings. The possibilities are endless, but so far Microsoft has touted the HoloLens as an indoor device. We’ll see how long it can stay there before migrating outdoors!
But will Microsoft’s HoloLens take off in a big way?
The real question is price. Will it be affordable enough so that the average consumer will jump on the technology right away? Microsoft has suggested that the HoloLens represents the next generation of home computers, and if that statement is taken seriously, then we need to see an affordable price point. If they can somehow manage to make this device cheaper than traditional PCs, then it stands to reason that the age of the desktop PC is nearing its end.
What do you think? Are we nearing another tipping point in computer technology?